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News from Europe

Godolphin ends alliance with Dettori

Jockey Sutherland retires

By Tom Krish


Sheikh Mohammed did not have a runner in this year's Arc De Triomphe that was run at Longchamp in Paris. As the Arc field was being whittled down, it was confirmed that Camelot, the dual English Classic-winning three year-old, will take his place in the line-up. Then came news from Ballydoyle that Camelot’s rider in France’s showpiece would be Frankie Dettori. It was news alright but it was news that sent shock waves through the European racing fraternity. Coolmore, headed by John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, had been Godolphin’s (controlled by Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed) fiercest adversary in racing and breeding wars all over the world. The fact that jockey Dettori, a loyal servant of the Sheikh, would agree to ride a horse belonging to a camp that fought his master on every conceivable front, was something that shook the racing framework to its core.

The Arc came and went. Camelot had good position and could not accelerate when asked. "He (Camelot) had nothing to give," Dettori said. The newspapers and racing publications began carrying stories about Dettori's unhappiness with the Godolphin operation. One writer stated, "The hiring of jockey Barzalona and jockey De Sousa was a move that Dettori did not like. He saw the waning of his pre-eminent position in Sheikh Mohammed's hierarchy."

The fans could see that the idea of having three stable riders was not working out. It was plain for all to see that Dettori's Camelot ride was an act of 'open rebellion' against the Godolphin establishment. Yes, he was free to accept a ride whenever the Sheikh did not have a runner in a given race but there was a matter of courtesy. Did Dettori ask the Sheikh if he could be aboard a Ballydoyle runner? All the reports suggested that jockey Dettori's decision was unilateral. The writing was on the wall.

The 41 year-old Dettori was riding Shuruq, a Godolphin maiden, in a seven-furong contest at Kempton Park (all weather) on Wednesday, October 17. Shuruq, an Elusive Quality filly trained by Saeed bin Suroor, was the 10/11 public choice. Dettori and Shuruq made every post a winning one. At that point, hardly anyone would have thought the fabled partnership between Dettori and Godolphin that had lasted 18 years, would be ending in a matter of days.

It was 4 pm in Chicago on Sunday when I opened the Racing Post website. The lead story was that Sheikh Mohammed and Frankie Dettori would be going their separate ways. Surprising as it was, to a large number of people, it was not unexpected. The simmering discontent came to a head with the Camelot episode. Sheikh Mohammed, slighted by Dettori's act that made the racing world become aware of the cracks in the alliance, reacted.

Frankie Dettori won the British riding title in 1994, 1995 and 2004. He had that 'flying dismount' trademark and his seven winners at Ascot in September 1996 was equalled by Richard Hughes at Windsor recently.

Simon Crisford, Racing Manager for Godolphin, made a statement. "Jockey Dettori will not be our retained jockey in 2013. He has new challenges and we wish him well."

Ray Cochrane, Dettori's agent said this, "we will set our sights on winning most of the big races. If we can do that, Frankie will have a crack at being champion jockey. We had a 49-hour window with Godolphin, Now, I can plan five days ahead. Frankie rides for a lot of trainers in Newmarket and has links all over the world and won't go short of work."

There was speculation that Dettori will be picked up by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani of Pearl Racing and Qatar Bloodstock. David Redvers, Manager for Sheikh Fahad, confirmed that they will have a stable jockey next year but it is not Dettori.

William Hill, one of Britain's betting behemoths, made Dettori a 20/1 chance to be champion rider in England in 2013. Paddy Power, the Dublin-based betting outfit, gave 25-1. Paddy Power offered 6/4 if you want to wager that Frankie Dettori will ride a Group I winner in Britain or Ireland in 2013.

I have seen Dettori ride all over the world. The 2005 Japan Cup (grass) win on the Luca Cumani-trained Alkaseed is at the top of my list. Heart's Cry (Christophe Lemaire) failed in the tightest of finishes. The ride on Red Rocks in the 2006 Breeders' Cup Turf is etched in my mind. The 2008 Raven's Pass win in the Breeders' Cup Classic was another that cannot easily be forgotten. I remember his win on Doyen in the 2004 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. What about Authorized in 2007 when Dettori broke his Epsom Derby duck? The 2002 Arc score with Marienbard was a memorable one. The list goes on.

On Wednesday, October 24, 2012, Dettori steered Goodwood Mirage, trained by John Dunlop, to victory in a Newmarket maiden race. The reports confirm that the Godolphin partnership will cease to exist at the end of this year.

Jockey Dettori will be in action in the Breeders' Cup next week. I do not believe there are any Godolphin horses in the Breeders' Cup races. Dettori's departure paves the way for Barzalona and Silvestre De Sousa to move into the limelight.

In another jockey-related item, Chantal Sutherland has retired. She is 36. She has 900 winners in her career. In this year's Shergar Cup at Ascot, Sutherland rode for the womens' team.

Jockey Sutherland said, "The moment has come. I am retiring. I almost can't believe it myself. I am not sad. I'm looking forward to another opportunity to begin a new chapter in my life."

Chantal Sutherland, with a furlong to go, appeared a winner in the Breeders' Cup Classic with Game On Dude last year and was caught late by Drosselmyer. She lost the Pacific Classic in 2012 on Game On Dude and was charged with dropping the reins. It has now been confirmed that she will not be back on Game On Dude.

Finally, Chantal Sutherland is one of the best looking (female) jockeys in the world. She is now married.

 


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